During the past few weeks, myself and other Baldwin Wallace University students participated in our alternative break trip entitled Love Wins One of the service components of our virtual trip was a collaboration with Campus Pride over five weeks. During our sessions with Campus Pride we explored issues and themes regarding the LGBTQ+ community on college campuses. Additionally, we engaged in various service projects throughout our experience.
First, we took a look at the general services that Campus Pride offers and began to learn about the different components that make up a college or university’s Campus Pride Index. Learning about the Campus Pride Index really helped me to see that the experiences of LGBTQ+ students are not the same and that is influenced by the policies and environments that each university implements on its campus. After learning about what Campus Pride does, our group explored all the different gender identities and sexualities under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. Additionally, we learned about general ways that allies can support and uplift all people in the LGBTQ+ community, as well as steps we could take to create a more inclusive campus.
Our first service project we completed with Campus Pride was writing synopsis for and uploading Campus Spotlight videos on Campus Pride’s YouTube channel. These videos presented a spotlight on an individual university, and showed an interview between representatives from Campus Pride and that particular university. These spotlight videos showed the variation of LGBTQ+ inclusive policies and diverse campus life in colleges across the country, and it was very informational to see how different schools approach creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for their LGBTQ+ student population. Watching these videos also sparked a discussion within my group about how we can maybe implement some of the policies and features from other college campuses in order to improve our own school.
The second part of our collaboration with Campus Pride focused on Trans Inclusion, with featured guest speaker Dr. Genny Beemyn, who is the director of the Stonewall Center at the University of Massachusetts and the Trans Policy Clearinghouse (TPC) coordinator for Campus Pride. They shared with us the importance of understanding trans issues and how treatment of trans people can directly impact their personal lives and health, thus stressing the necessity of creating trans and gender inclusivity on not only college campuses but in everyday life as well. This presentation was very educational and insightful because Dr. Beemyn highlighted important issues that trans/genderqueer people face and gave us resources about how to be better allies and advocates for the trans community. In relation to this, we spent a few weeks working on updating the TPC information that has records of the policies that universities have regarding trans students. This work was very important because it allows TPC and Campus Pride to remain current on the state of trans-inclusive policies in universities across the country.
Finally, we attended another workshop entitled “Understanding Bisexuality: Challenging Stigma, Reducing Disparities and Caring for Patients” by educator Robyn Ochs. Robyn shared with us information about the multitude of identities and experiences that fall under the bisexual label and challenged us to consider the stereotypes and issues that surround Bi+ people. This conversation was very enriching because it provided us with an experience to learn more about societal misconceptions surrounding LGBTQ+ identities and how we can best approach breaking the stigma around bisexuality and other identities in order to support bi+ people.
Overall, our experience with Campus Pride has been very enlightening. Learning about the intersectionality of LGBTQ+ identities and the issues queer people face has been a very insightful experience because it has allowed us to engage with our own identities and experiences in order to provide service and advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community.